In the early 1980s, Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda formed an ashram in Agoura Hills, California. There a beautiful, multi-ethnic and multi generational religious community grew up around her. The highpoint of living in this very special and loving environment took shape on Sundays when Alice would lead the community in a musical ceremony, mixing both gospel and Indian chant, to create a music she wholly invented – it was something extraordinarily powerful. The Ashram is still there today. There are still some who live there and there is still a weekly Sunday service that is open for everyone.
The folks who populated the Ashram world of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda were a very special group of people. Many of the adult members were musicians before having moved there, and many of the younger followers have become musicians and film makers as they grew older. One these amazing artists is John Panduranga Henderson.
Panduranga played organ, piano and sang with Ray Charles in the 1970’s where he was a star performer in Ray’s band. When he joined the Ashram, he became in essence a star performer there as well, though of course there were no ‘stars’. Alice sitting at the organ would say, “Panduranga” and John would come to the front and let loose one of his amazing gospel-esque solos praising Rama or Vishnu or Jesus, Muhammad, Moses and more. He made one record under his own name – a record so obscure it’s not listed on Discogs, nor found on the interweb? what?!
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